THOMAS Cook has confirmed all companies in its group have ceased trading, leaving Mid-Ulster holiday makers stranded abroad, upcoming holidays cancelled and a number of local of jobs lost.
The travel agent, with local branches in Cookstown and Magherafelt, announced the closures at 2am on Monday morning, with staff waking up to the news that they no longer had jobs, and customers that they no longer had holidays.
As of Monday morning, the Cookstown and Magherafelt branches social media pages had been deleted, Google searches for opening hours of the stores stated ‘permanently closed’ and the doors of the branches were shut.
The tour operator's failure puts 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide, including 9,000 across the UK.
Northern Ireland holidaymakers are among 150,000 people who must be brought home in what has been described as the biggest ever peacetime repatriation.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority and Government are organising new flights home for Thomas Cook passengers up until 6th October 2019 for those who are currently on holiday. After this date they will have to make their own travel arrangements home.
For those who are yet to travel Thomas Cook said: “We are sorry to inform you that all future holidays and flights booked with Thomas Cook are cancelled as of 23 September 2019.
“If you are booked on a Thomas Cook Airlines flight, please do not go to your UK airport, as your flight will not be operating. The Civil Aviation Authority’s repatriation programme will not include any outbound flights from the UK.”
William Bell, from Castledawson, who is holidaying in Turkey, told Radio Ulster yesterday their hotel threatened to throw holidaymakers with Thomas Cook out unless they paid Thomas Cook’s bill, but they refused to go. He said they would be arriving home on Friday but via a different airline and not Thomas Cook.
And Philip Tener, from Castlecaulfield had a holiday booked with Thomas Cook for 14th October this year and was disappointed by the news.
He said: “The whole thing has hit the wall and it’s all a bit up in the air. All of the support seems to be online and it’s that uncertainty of not knowing when you will get your money back or if you will get the full amount back which is disappointing. It’s a double whammy because you now don’t have a holiday to go on and you are out of pocket.”
Information is available for those who are currently abroad; also if you have a future booking and have not travelled yet; how to check if you are ATOL protected and how to make a claim. Further contact information for the Civil Aviation Authority’s call centre is available on the website https://thomascook.caa.co.uk/ and on their Twitter @UK_CAA.